‘Mo­tion of non-con­fi­dence’ com­ing

Mem­bers to vote on re­mov­ing Nu­navut’s premier; de­tails yet to be re­leased

The Welland Tribune - - Canada & World -

IQALUIT, NU­NAVUT — Nu­navut could have a new leader be­fore the week is out — less than a year af­ter Premier Paul Quassa was cho­sen.

John Main, who rep­re­sents the com­mu­nity of Arviat in the ter­ri­to­rial leg­is­la­ture, has told the as­sem­bly that he will be in­tro­duc­ing a mo­tion Thurs­day that would re­quire Quassa to step down.

“It’s a mo­tion of non-con­fi­dence,” Main said Tues­day.

He was un­will­ing to im­me­di­ately dis­cuss the rea­sons for the mo­tion.

“In terms of the mo­tion and the rea­son­ing be­hind it, that will all be dis­cussed in the house,” he said.

The mo­tion could have a good chance of suc­ceed­ing.

Main is chair of the reg­u­lar mem­bers cau­cus, which — un­der the rules of Nu­navut’s con­sen­sus govern­ment — con­sists of all mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture who aren’t in cabi­net. He said the mo­tion was widely dis­cussed in that cau­cus, which func­tions as a kind of op­po­si­tion.

“There’s a de­gree of con­fi­dence (in the vote),” he said. “It’s not some­thing that would be brought up on a whim with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of avail­able op­tions and voic­ing of opin­ions within the cau­cus.”

A sim­ple ma­jor­ity of the leg­is­la­ture’s 22 mem­bers would be enough to bring Quassa down.

Quassa de­clined re­quests for an in­ter­view.

If the mo­tion suc­ceeds, a new premier will have to be se­lected. In Nu­navut, the premier and cabi­net are cho­sen by vote from among all mem­bers.

Nor­mally, that hap­pens shortly af­ter a gen­eral elec­tion. That’s how Quassa was cho­sen premier last Novem­ber.

The process could hap­pen quickly, said John Quirke, clerk of the leg­is­la­ture.

“I envision it hap­pen­ing Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Thurs­day evening, with a new premier in place by Fri­day morn­ing,” Quirke said.

New Nu­navut pre­miers tra­di­tion­ally hud­dle with their col­leagues at the start of their first ses­sion to de­ter­mine the govern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties for its term in of­fice. It’s not clear if a re­place­ment premier would re­set those pri­or­i­ties.

“That’s the type of de­ci­sion that would be made in full cau­cus,” said Main.

It’s also not clear what would hap­pen to the ter­ri­tory’s bud­get, re­cently tabled by Quassa’s cabi­net and be­ing de­bated in the leg­is­la­ture. The leg­is­la­ture is also de­bat­ing im­por­tant bills on sub­jects such as mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion.

“We have our hands full,” Main said.

Quassa would re­tain his seat. If the mo­tion suc­ceeds, it would be the first time a sit­ting premier has been re­moved in Nu­navut’s 19-year his­tory. Quirke said one cabi­net min­is­ter has been re­moved in that time.

The North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, which also uses con­sen­sus govern­ment, has had five non-con­fi­dence votes be­tween 1998 and 2009. The only premier forced from of­fice was Don Morin in 1998.

Quassa, 65, was born near Igloo­lik on the Melville Penin­sula, a mem­ber of the last gen­er­a­tion of Inuit lead­ers to be born on the land. At the age of six, he was taken to a res­i­den­tial school in Churchill, Man., where he was to spend his next 13 years.

He was one of the ne­go­tia­tors of the Nu­navut land claim and his sig­na­ture is on the doc­u­ment.

Since then, Quassa has led the group that ad­min­is­ters the claim. He spent the bet­ter part of a decade as a CBC journalist. He’s worked for Isuma Pro­duc­tions, an award-win­ning film and video stu­dio in his home town of Igloo­lik.

He was the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter in the last govern­ment and over­saw an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt to mod­ern­ize leg­is­la­tion to pro­mote fully bilin­gual stu­dents.


Nu­navut Premier Paul Quassa faces the possibility of a non-con­fi­dence vote this week, which would re­move the premier.

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